True friends in your life are a rare treasure

IRON MOUNTAIN — When my husband and I were planning our wedding, one of the hardest things we had to do was choose who would be in our bridal party. This was hard because my husband had about eight people he wanted as groomsmen, and I had five; we settled on six. My husband, the charismatic, humorous, lovable guy that he is, has a plethora of friends and family. Narrowing it down to six was incredibly hard for him, as he was stuck with the near impossible decision of who to cut. I, on the other hand, the shy, introverted, anxiety driven nerd, had a hard time coming up with even five bridesmaids, let alone six.

My husband and I are complete opposites; he likes modern, foreign cars, and I like old Volkswagens. He hates vanilla, and I hate chocolate; he’s an iPhone guy, and I’m a Samsung gal. As such, it came as no surprise when we once again had vastly different ideas of how many friends we’d have standing beside us on our big day. In truth, the six people I chose were the people I know are going to be in my life for the long haul. Yes, two of them were my relatives, so technically they’re stuck with me, but the other four are the people who chose me as their family.

I had two maids of honor: my sister, and my college best friend. Roomie* and I met when we were transfer students at Purdue University. We were placed in an orientation group of about 15, and we were the only girls not rushing a sorority. Thus, we became instant friends on the grounds of both commonality and the desperate need to converse with someone on anything other than “Greek Life.” Over the course of time, we discovered that we must have been separated at birth, because we were in fact each other’s soul mates. Barely a month after knowing one another, we signed a lease for an apartment for the upcoming school year. That either made us crazy, devoted, or both.

Through our college years, we committed to each other in a way that most people don’t. We were there for each other when we were upset, had a standing date every night at 11 o’clock to watch Friends, ate at the local Olive Garden so much that the waiters knew both our orders by heart, got through break ups and horrible dates, graduations, first jobs, and graduate school. While I student taught in Chicago, I lived with her family, and then again when I returned for a long term sub position. She’s made a promise to build me a wing in her one day North Carolina dream home, and I’ve vowed to be her personal shopper anytime she needs.

I met Beauty* on the rainy streets of London. We were both doing a study abroad trip, and we were both quiet and reserved. She is the only of my friends to call me Sammi. As Anne Shirley puts it, we’re “kindred spirits.” We love poetry, art, and literature; we yearn to travel and see the world. Paris is our true love, and England is our best friend. We continued our friendship at university, and even after I graduated and she was still in school. She flew from Purdue to Michigan to see me for a weekend, and then again from India for my wedding. She’s won the hearts of every one of my family members and has secured a second home for life. When she stood in my wedding, she knew none of the other bridesmaids, and yet by the end of the weekend, all of them were so in awe of how pure her soul is that they swiftly secured her as one of their own friends. She lives halfway across the world, and yet she’s become one of my truest confidants.

Then, there’s Life*. Life is contagious. Her laugh fills a room, and her energy is exhaustingly inspired. We too, met while at Purdue, but not as transfers. She was a tried and true West Lafayette townie, and she showed us the ropes. Every time we went out, whether it was a quick run to Target or to the local pub, she saw at least three people that she knew. She was easily beloved, and desperately sought after. Despite having graduated years ago, I’m convinced that the entire school still knows who she is. She was my roommate for the last half of my senior year, and we simply never let go of each other. I still remember how after an absolutely horrid day, Life came home with a gossip magazine, a bag of skittles, and a half gallon of ice cream, because as she put it, “a pint just wouldn’t cut it.” I’ve flown to visit her when she worked for Disney, and she texts and calls me all the time. Life was one of the first people I told about Rob, and despite the fact that we hadn’t seen each other in nearly two years, her response to whether or not she’d be a bridesmaid was a resounding yes; she even snuck into my hotel room the weekend of the wedding, before I’d arrived, and decorated it for a girls night, complete with rose gold love balloons, pink and white streamers, and a bride beach bag for my honeymoon.

Last, is Spirit*, who I’ve been friends with for almost 19 years. We were childhood friends from grade school, who immediately bonded over the fact that neither of us looked like other girls and neither of us acted like other girls. We both loved dirt and the woods and we both were tall and muscular. She was a fiery red head and I was a sassy brunette, and we were inseparable. I think the moment I knew she was forever was when we were seven or eight; it was summer break, and she sent me a hand written letter asking how I was and what I was doing, with a picture of herself inside. I still remember what that picture looked like; she was wearing jeans and bright pink top, with pig tails, and she was holding a soccer ball while standing on top of a monster truck. That photo to this day sums up Spirit. She is beautifully unpredictable and wonderfully unique, and she is one of the greatest moms I know. I am beyond blessed to be known as Auntie Samm to her girls, and my husband, who used to be called Mr. Rob, is now affectionately dubbed “Unc Rob.” We’ve lasted through the hardships of puberty, the drama of high school, and the reality of adulthood. She has always been a real companion of heart, and even though our lives are moving in very different directions, we’ve created a friendship that can only get stronger.

While I know that my husband has incredible friends, I also know that on that list of hundreds, he has some friends who are more acquaintances, friends who are actual, and friends who he’s more of an ally to than they’re an ally to him. Like most have experienced, people have come and gone out of my life. My family members have always been my companions, as I have cousins who are like sisters and a sister who I’ve chosen as a bosom friend.

I also have a wonderful chum who used to be the best friend of Roomie’s ex; we like to say we won him in the divorce. I’ll always be the girl who has only a few comrades. My family has always been my friends, but my friends haven’t always been my family. The core four have always remained consistent, even though we’ve never all lived in the same state or even country. Life and those in it are often times fickle, but when you find rare treasures who stick around through all the chaos, never loosen your grip.

*All names have been changed to protect the privacy of loved ones.


Featured event of the week:

Florence Health Services will be having their pumpkin carving event on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. The home will purchase the pumpkins from a local patch. The residents will be placed in small groups where together they will choose a design they wish to have on their pumpkin. The pumpkins will then be carved for each group by the activities staff and some volunteers. Family members are always welcome to join on the festivities, and can help out in any way they wish, including carving. Pumpkins are free to the residents and families.

“The residents enjoy opportunities to do activities they once did but are no longer able to accomplish on their own, such as pumpkin carving,” said activities director Amanda Paar. The event will last roughly an hour to an hour and a half.





Scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m. (Monday through Saturday).

Sunday: Scenes and sounds, noon; UNO, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Pretty nails, 10 a.m.; library cart, 11 a.m.; brouhaha, 1 p.m.; ice cream social and trivia, west lounge, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crochet and knit, 10 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movies and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 10 a.m.; bible study, 11 a.m.; group crosswords, 1 p.m.; pokereno, 2 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; Woodland reading buddies, 1:30 p.m.; Golden K bingo, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Coffee social, 10:30 a.m.; lounge trivia, 11 a.m.; Daily News, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Room visits, 1 p.m. (Monday and Friday).

Sunday: One to one church visitors, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; Pictionary, 10 a.m.; Afternoon matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Costume prep, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book Club, 10 a.m.; Mass, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; mystery movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Costumes, 9 a.m.; animal king, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; ghost stories, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; Presbyterian church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Kids visit, 9:15 a.m.; casino trip, 10 a.m.; costumes, 2 p.m.; spooky movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Word search, 10 a.m.; hangman, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet Your Whistle, 9:30 a.m. (daily).

Movie, 10:45 a.m. (daily), and 3:15 p.m. (Monday through Friday).

Gathering place, 11:40 a.m. (Saturday and Sunday), and 4:30 p.m. (Monday through Friday).

Popcorn Day, Fridays (weekly).

Protestant Church service, Sunday, 3 p.m.

Exercises, 10 a.m. (daily).

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; morsels and more, 1:30 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when 10:15 a.m.; Crystal Hogan entertains, 2 p.m.; Pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Who am I?, 10:15 a.m.; bowling, 2 p.m.; movie and a manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Table talk, 10:15 a.m.; pumpkin creations, 2 p.m.; Flip Five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; Deal or No Deal bingo, 2 p.m.; crafts, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: ManorCare monthly, 10:15 a.m.; Lucky 13, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; Halloween bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. (Monday through Friday).

Parachute, 1:30 p.m. (daily).

Monthly support group for grief and loss, second Monday of the month at 2 p.m.

Weekend pet visits.

Sunday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; bingo, 10:15 a.m.; help your neighbor, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m. Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Shopping outing, 9:30 a.m.; creative art, 10:15 a.m.; tee time, golf, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Bingo, 10:15 a.m.; crafts, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Protestant church, 9 a.m.; joker-eno, 10:15 a.m.; crafts, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; prayer shawl, 2 p.m.; Whammo, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Yoga,10:15 a.m.; happy hour, Jim D., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Baking, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish coffee special, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor, Alzheimer’s Unit

Niagara, Wis.

Bread making, noon (daily).

Chicken soup, communication program, 4 p.m. (daily).

Sensory group, 6 p.m. (daily).

Movie, 6:30 p.m. (daily).

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Exercise, 11 a.m. (Monday through Friday).

Shopping days: Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m., must sign up.

Sunday: Packers vs. Saints, noon; bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Wanda’s Birthday party, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Ladderball, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Music with Crystal, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Communion with Deacon Don, 10 a.m.; Left Center Right, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Jeanette’s birthday party, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; Packer tailgate lunch party, noon.

Monday: Greeting cards, 10 a.m.; bingo with Bette, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Board games, 10 a.m.; entertainment by Valri, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Chair exercising, 10 a.m.; shopping outing to Walmart, 2 p.m.; music by Jason, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason church service, 10 a.m.; pumpkin carving, 2 p.m.

Friday: Catholic communion, 10 a.m.; baking with pumpkin, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; reading short stories, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3:30 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical

Care Facility


Life connections, 9:45 a.m. every Monday.

Busy bee, 12:30 (Monday through Friday).

Sunday: Grace church, 10 a.m.; Scattergories, 10 a.m.; Packer game, noon; Packer party, 2 p.m.; Lutheran service, 2 p.m.

Monday: Beauty shop, 10:30 a.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; movie, 3 p.m.; ball toss, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Apple bob, 10 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.; social circle, 3:30 p.m.; word puzzles, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Casino outing, 10 a.m.; birthday party, 2 p.m.; Scrabble, 3:45 p.m.

Thursday: Breakfast outing, 7:30 a.m.; chair yoga, 10 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; volleyball, 6 p.m.

Friday: Mass, 10 a.m.; spa music, 10:15 a.m.; Jerry Beauchamp, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Hang massage, 10 a.m.; life stories, 10 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.

Victorian Heights

Crystal Falls


*Activities director out on leave. Call the home for additional information.


Note: All centers ask for 24 hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at noon.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center



Meals: Monday through Friday.

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.  

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are held first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m. with dinner served at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Blood pressure and blood sugar testing, every fourth Wednesday.

Crystal Falls Center

Head Cook, Tracy West


Meals will be served on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 5 p.m. (a salad bar will be open at 4:30 p.m.). The dinner donation is $5 for those age 60 and over and $6 for those under age 60. There is a take-out container charge of $1. All persons are invited. 

Cribbage will be played on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and be concluded in time for the dinner.

Center is closed Thursday through Sunday. 

A site council meeting is held on the third Wednesday at 3 p.m. 

Blood pressure taken by request anytime the center is open.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on the weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m.; crafters, scrap bookers, etc. also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music Jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

Dances are held on the second and fourth Friday’s of the month from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $6 and coffee is free.

The Photo Club meets on the first Tuesday of the month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Evening meals are usually on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. They have a salad bar beginning at 4 p.m. with the meal beginning at 4:30 p.m. A donation of $4 is accepted for seniors (60 plus), but not required.

Home delivered meals are for seniors 60 plus and can be delivered seven days a week.    

Felch Center


Meals served Monday through Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

Bingo on the first and third Wednesday of each month after lunch.

Congregate jigsaw puzzle done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County


Director: Lori Friberg

Three senior dining locations are listed below:

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon on Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. 

Jigsaw puzzles, cards, cribbage, and board games are available. The coffee is always on.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Jigsaw puzzles, cribbage, cards, and board games are available. The coffee is always on.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is Monday through Friday at noon. Suggested donation is $3 for those 60 and older and $7 for those under 60.

Morning coffee is available each day

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday along with 50/50.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill is also available.

Friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; $4 donation is encouraged (over 60) and $5 (required under 60).

Salad bar with Thursday meal, 4 p.m. and dinner at 4:30 p.m.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule           


Center director: Jill Anderson           


Noon meals served Monday through Thursday.

Transportation to the meal site from the Niagara area is offered.

Wii games, cards, puzzles, and board games available to play.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon with salad bar. Soup is also available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. Meal donation is $5.

Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea, and coffee served daily.

Two special theme noon meals each month with bingo, prizes, and 50/50.

Two evening meals, 5 p.m., on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month with bingo, prizes, and 50/50.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always worked on.

Senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available. If you are a senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone contact, the center will have someone check in to see that all is well.

Note: A CSFP food card (green card) is available to income-eligible seniors. Make an appointment to get signed up. File of Life packets available at the center.

Note: Ask about the Medicare Savings Program. This program helps people pay their Medicare part B premium. You may be eligible. Your local MMAP Counselor can be reached at  1-800-803-7174, or dial 211.

Center membership cards are available for $5 at the front desk.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

Puzzle table for all to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome.